Thursday, September 24, 2009

Review: Growing Healthy Homes

One of the very best things about being on the Homeschool Crew this year has been the chance to try out some products that a) I never could have afforded, and b) I didn't know I needed.

Growing Healthy Homes provided me with one such product -- Nutrition 101: Choose Life!
PhotobucketWhat is it?  A nutrition and health program "for all ages" that goes through a lot of anatomy as well, so it could also be used as a science program.  It comes either as an ebook (448 pages) via CD, or you can purchase a physical book.  For the crew, we received the ebook.

I don't mind doing some schoolwork from my laptop, so we did not print the book out.  Printing in color would be expensive -- if I were to print this, I would do it in full in black and white, and then go through and print a few select pages in color.  Then have it bound.

The book contains six units, each with four chapters.  Each unit covers two body systems, which takes you through the twelve main systems of the body (the reproductive system is covered in an appendix, which would make thirteen systems covered in total).

Each unit also covers some aspect of nutrition that relates to the body systems covered.  For instance, when learning about the digestive system, you learn about enzymes.

The suggestion is to work through a chapter a week, and they lay out specific ideas as to how to do that.  The pace worked well for us for chapter 1, but after that, the text got to be far too much to read in a day.  We slowed our pace down to do a chapter over two weeks.

Each chapter includes text, discussion questions, activity suggestions, resources, a "power recipe" and activities to go along with that as well.  At the end of each unit, there are additional recipes.  We plan to take another week to play with one or two of them as well.  This means, the entire book should take us roughly a calendar year (53 weeks, if the remaining chapters continue to take us two weeks each).

They bill this as being for "all ages" and I got the chance to test this with my crew.  Trina (age 3) could not care less, though she enjoyed the kitchen part.  Richard, my kindergartner, quickly glazed over as well.  My big three, though (ages 8, 10 and 12) are all enjoying it.  I think I would say that it is good starting somewhere around 2nd or 3rd grade, and it certainly is meaty enough for high schoolers if they add in the upper level activities.

Activities suggested in the book include a nice variety of formats... in chapter 1 (the brain), the kids had a ball brushing their teeth left-handed, and my oldest son took an online cognitive style quiz, researched the etymology of the word "lobe," and watched a Youtube video about the brain.  We also as a family spent time in the produce section picking out what we needed for the power recipe (guacamole) using the guidelines in an appendix of the book (the only pages I've printed so far!)

Chapter 2 activities included a lot more research for my oldest, and a lot of trying different foods.

We have only made two of the recipes so far -- we're kind of stuck at the moment, because the recipe for Chapter 3 calls for flaxseed oil and a nut oil (walnut, sesame, pumpkin) and we simply cannot shell out $20 for a couple little bottles of oil right now. Both recipes we tried were very good.

In spite of us stalling out in chapter 3, one thing I do like is that although they are suggestion a lot of "health food" items, they do introduce them reasonably slowly, so you aren't stuck making a lot of purchases all at once.  Particularly if you skip the additional recipes.

In fact, in Unit 1, chapter 3 is the only one with what I consider to be unusual ingredients.  In Unit 2, chapter 2 suggests a different nut oil and chapter 4 calls for prune puree.  Unit 3, chapter 1 calls for Blue Agave Nectar, carob powder, and coconut or rice milk.  Unit 4, chapter 2 calls for tahini and chapter 4 calls for coconut oil.  Unit 5, chapter 4 calls for almond butter and carob chips.  You continue to use ingredients (especially Blue Agave Nectar) after they are first introduced.  Obviously, your definition of unusual ingredients is likely to differ from mine.  I didn't include produce that I don't normally buy but I know I can at Safeway.

Okay, so my overall opinion?  This is a great program.  There is a ton of detail, it is Biblically based, and the focus is definitely to let the kids know what their choices are and what those choices mean... with the goal that they will, as the title suggests, choose life.

I love this.  I'm very glad I have it.  And we will work through it multiple times over our homeschooling career.  It has already helped my family to eat better, and I'm sure as we work through the entire book that will become even more obvious.

The biggest con is the cost.  The CD-ROM is available for $80, and the book is $100.  This is something I would seriously consider saving up for though, as it is a treasure trove of information, and eating healthy is a family priority.  Again, you can check out their website, view the video, look at samples, etc.

And you can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about Nutrition 101 at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

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